Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Does "Organic" Taste Better?

I recently read an article in Lucky Peach magazine about the flavor value of "organic".
We all see the price tag, but are we buying a better product?
The short answer seems to be yes.
Study after study shows that organic produce, particularly leafy stuff, not only tastes better but is healthier.  The basic just of it is that the things (phytochemicals) that a plant produces to protect itself, are those that are delicious and are good for us. Part of the idea is that our body had evolved to like the taste of things that are good for us.  And that when you start to treat plant with pesticides and herbicides (et al) the plant ceases to create the things that are healthy and tasty.  Check this out. . .
What do phytochemicals have to do with flavor? Phytochemicals are chemicals created by plants, and especially those that have effects on other creatures. Plants make many of them to defend themselves against microbes and insects: to make themselves unpalatable, counterattack the invaders and limit the damage they cause. Most of the aromas of vegetables, herbs and spices come from defensive chemicals. They may smell pleasant to us, but the plants make them to repel their mortal enemies.
Why should organic produce have higher phytochemical levels? The current theory is that because plants in organic production are unprotected by pesticides and fungicides, they are more stressed by insects and disease microbes than conventional crops, and have to work harder to protect themselves. So it makes sense that organic produce would have more intense flavors. For some reason, taste tests haven’t consistently found this to be the case.  ---This is from this article.
Also, in a particular experiment they distressed basil to test for the optimal level. . .

They soaked basil seeds for 30 minutes in a chitosan solution, then soaked the roots again when they transferred the seedlings to larger pots. After 45 days, they compared the chemical composition of leaves from treated and untreated plants. They found that at the optimum chitosan concentration, the antioxidant activity in treated plants was greater by more than three times. The overall production of aroma compounds was up by nearly 50 percent, and the levels of clove-like and flowery components doubled.  --- Also from this article.

 Neat-o . . .
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